Plantar Fasciitis: You Pesky Rascal!
by Katy Canete
You wake up in the morning, step down on your foot and the heel pain has you hobbling first thing. As the day goes on, the pain diminishes here and there. No pain after the first few steps of your run but in the afternoon your foot is fatigued and achy and the pain returns right when you stand up or after standing for a bit. You sleep and repeat. Plantar Fasciitis is the sneaky- ninja injury that can come and go, seems to be resolved then hits you again full force when you least expect it. How frustrating!
A doc or physical therapist can diagnose your foot pain and let you know where to go from here. Plantar Fasciitis refers to repeat inflammation on the sole of your foot in the dense tissue that runs from the toes to the heel. It can be associated with a heel spur as a result of the injury that can be particularly painful to put pressure on. This injury can linger because as the fascia is healing and scar tissue is forming, especially in overnight rest as your foot is in relaxed flexion, the healing fascia can re-tear as soon as you step down on your foot with pressure. This can lead to built up adhesions and tension in the area over time that can be difficult to rest and heal.
Some things that might help speed your healing:
- Icing the sole of the foot with a frozen water bottle in the evenings to keep inflammation down.
- Stretching in the morning BEFORE getting out of bed, especially the calves. Try a seated forward bend while pulling a strap around the sole of your foot towards you.
- Trying heat in the morning to limber up the fascia before you start your day.
- Rolling a tennis or golf ball under your foot, as much as you can handle pain-wise, during the day to keep the tissue flexible.
- Massage can help to keep the plantar fascia loose, especially as it connects up the back of the heel into the Achilles tendon and up into the calf. Muscular and fascial tension in this area can be a cause for the repeat nature of this injury.
- Seeing a physical therapist can help to discover the origin of the issue, whether it’s how your foot is rolling as you walk, if you need orthotics or if a combination of strengthening here (gastrocnemius & soleus) and loosening there (calf fascia, hip flexors) is at issue. A night foot brace to keep your foot in extension might be a recommended help.